Toa legend: No excuses for Samoa
Former international Francis Meli believes Samoa were caught by surprise when it came to the Kiwis' game plan last week, and implored them to address it or face another big defeat when they meet Tonga on Saturday night.
Meli highlighted Samoa's inability to contain second phase, which saw them allow 16 offloads, as the key difference in New Zealand's 38-8 win, and told NRL.com they could expect something similar against a star-studded Tonga forward pack at Waikato Stadium.
"I think Samoa got caught off guard against the Kiwis, the first contact in tackles was good but they weren't getting players to ground, you saw [Martin] Taupau almost on the ground and still able to offload at times," said Meli, who played seven times for Samoa along with earning 13 Test caps for the Kiwis.
"I thought Samoa's big boys did their job against the Kiwis and were probably more aggressive, but they struggled with the offloads. Samoa could have shut that down, [but instead] it ended up being the key, those offloads led to broken play and from there holes came up on the edges.
"The offloads killed them, and then missed tackles, and that was right from the first try of the game.
"But they have got some smart coaches there and I think they can make the adjustment."
Samoa footed it with New Zealand through the opening 40 minutes in Auckland and trailed just 10-4 at the break, before being blown off the park and leaking five tries in the second half.
By the end of the match coach Matt Parish's side had made 16 errors and missed 36 tackles, but Tonga captain Sika Manu had no doubt Samoa would bring their best for this week's Pacific showdown.
"I think Samoa still played really well against New Zealand, they have still got a really strong team and will come out firing on Saturday against us," Manu told NRL.com.
"It's always a tough challenge between Tonga and Samoa, and one we will need to be on top of our game for."
Meanwhile after a week of intense build-up, which has seen a wave of support throughout New Zealand for both Tonga and Samoa, Meli said it would be vital that both teams remove themselves from the emotion come kick-off.
"With Samoa and Tonga there is pride and a lot of emotion, this is probably the most important game in the competition for them, it's about bragging rights and community," Meli said.
"They do the haka and everyone is emotional and then at kick-off smart football needs to kick in, because you can get caught up in the hype and pride and what the jersey means.
"If you're not careful the game is gone just like that."